Netherworld Rocks! Feb 13th 2009 Old Ticket Hall, Windsor
“Heavyweight musicians” is not a term to be bandied about willy-nilly, but in the case of Netherworld, if the cap fits- wear it. Local lads (of a certain age) Jason Stretch, Paul Smith and Ian Roberts play the kind of heavy metal and industrial strength rock n’ roll that mama said would make your head go deaf. They play it so powerfully, and at such eardrum shreddingly high decibel levels, that it feels like your entrails have been torn clean from your body and whipped up into the electrically charged air in a frenzy of savage butchery.
Jason is the man mountain lead guitarist with a an effective voice and a cool-hand whose fingers lacerate the frets in a cruel, incisive, sharply cutting manner much like a sushi chef on a day-out at the samurai sword factory. His foaming froth of jet-black hair blowin’ free like a cornfield, and total concentration on the fingerwork, mark him out as a truly experienced and proficient axeman.
‘Smiffy’ Smith is the bands ‘second’ vocalist (he does mean and cruel vox whereas Jason does clean-cut yet impulsive vox) and looks like a slightly more paranoid version of Ritchie Blackmore with dark beady eyes glancing this way and that as if some unspecified, yet hideous, graveyard creature was stalking him. But his bass guitar pounds out those dark stormy notes with controlled aggression.
Ian Roberts looks like a slightly more gangly version of Robert Plant with a loose mop of golden locks constantly frizzing and boiling on top of the stove whilst, beneath, the frantic sticks pummel the hell out of a seriously large drum set. The effect is the musical equivalent of the advance of a mechanised infantry brigade. Threatening, posturing, powerful heavy metal.
Plenty of AC/DC goes down well with the crowd. Followed by bucketfuls of Thin Lizzy and washed down with Hendrix, Sabbath, Motorhead…this band have a large ‘biker following’ and you can see why. But the Windsor crowd at tonights Old Ticket Hall gig were slightly more charming and slightly less greasy than the normal Netherworld punters. They politely cheered
and clapped each song and were clearly delighted with the offerings from this metal madness.
The acoustics at the Ticket Hall didn’t do some of the songs justice and, at times, the feedback was annoying (the room is like a huge cathedral with an enormous high ceiling and yard-upon-yard of stark blank walls.) A small stage canopy helps to muffle some of the echo, but the venue is a ‘difficult’ space. It was also damn cold on top of and in front of stage and the Netherworld boys were obviously having some difficulty getting their joints warmed up…I mean the joints in their fingers and wrists!! (No smokin’ inside the Old Ticket Hall.)
So, out into the crisp night air with my eardrums melting as quickly as last week’s garden snowman… what did I think of them? Hard working, monstrously strong and a multi-talented group of severely serious heavy metal masters. In fact, heavyweight musicians.